fourth advent reflection:


Love can be confusing. Being in love. Falling in love. Searching for love. All out of love. Everyone wants to be loved, but it can be difficult to know what love actually is.

One psychologist suggests that there are 8 different kinds of love – including Romantic Love, Friendship Love, Self Love, Sexual love, and Universal Love. The English word “love” carries so many different nuances.

Think about it… How does love actually help us? A sense of security and companionship? An opportunity for our needs to be met?

For generations , people have wondered if the benefits of love have been worth the risk it takes.

So where do we go to learn about love?

Before continuing with today’s reflection, watch the following video from The Bible Project’s Advent Word Series:

Interestingly, the earliest followers of Jesus who wrote the books of the New Testament in Greek didn’t learn the meaning of love by looking it up in ancient dictionaries. Rather, they looked to the teachings of Jesus and the story of His life to redefine their very concept of “love.”

So one time, Jesus was asked about the most important command in the Jewish Scriptures. And he first quoted from an ancient prayer called the shema. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” So love for God is the most important thing, but then Jesus quickly followed up saying another command was also “the most important: “to love your neighbour as yourself.”

Take a look at this collection of gifts and imagine holding one of them in your hand. As you hold it, ask yourself this question:

“who is my neighbour?”

Who comes to mind? The person who lives next door? A family member? A friend?

The love Jesus spoke of is not primarily a feeling for someone else that happens to you, like the phrase “I fell in love.” For Jesus, love is action. It’s a choice that you make to seek the well-being of people other than yourself – especially for people who are in difficult situations who can’t repay you even if they wanted to. According to Jesus, this kind of generous love reflects the very heartbeat of God.

Think back to your question, “who is my neighbour?” In what way are they finding themselves in a difficult situation? How might they be feeling? What is their story? Is the person you’re thinking of still the same as before, or has God put someone else on your heart?

Jesus said that the ultimate standard of authentic love is how well you treat the person you can’t stand, or in His words, “you shall love your enemy and do good to them, expecting nothing in return.” And this is how Jesus actually lived – revealing the very character of God Himself. He consistently moved towards poor and hurting people who couldn’t benefit Him in return.

The ultimate demonstration of this kind of love was when He allowed His enemies to kill him. As we look back on the event of His death, we now recognise that Jesus was demonstrating God’s love for all of humanity. As the Apostle Paul put it, “God demonstrated His own love for us in this, while were still sinners, the Messiah died for us.”

Christian faith teaches us that the purpose of human existence is to receive this love that has come to us in Jesus, and then to give it back out to others.

Think back to the question: “who is my neighbour?” Who has God placed on your heart?

Something to prayerfully consider this week:

What would it look like for you to give a gift to the person God has placed on your heart this week?

return to ADVENT menu